Next Move of Ashraf Residents After Minimum Humanitarian Requirements Met

Residents of camp Ashraf in Iraq have agreed to completely move to Liberty after the realization the 8 minimum humanitarian requirements mentioned below (highlighted), are fulfilled. This is the maximum flexibility the residents could show to leave their home (Ashraf) to Liberty which truly is a highly secured prison.

Two months ago, Ashraf residents and their representatives presented the necessary requirements for resuming further convoys and relocation of all Ashraf residents to Liberty

The short list of items has not yet been fulfilled.

Temperatures in Iraq exceed 125 degrees Fahrenheit, 50 degrees Celsius, this time of year, yet the U.S. State Department and United Nations seem not to be interested.

There have been two and half months of delay in fulfilling the commitments of the fifth convoy, which has stalled the relocation of further groups.

It is now time for the U.S., the UN and the Government of Iraq to render their responsibilities, which they have all shirked.

Camp Ashraf Press statement

After two and half months, Iraqi Government refused to implement eight points of the ten minimum humanitarian requirements for the departure of other groups from Ashraf to Liberty, and it has only transferred air conditioners and the belongings remained from groups four and five.

Breach of commitments by refusing to transfer water pumping equipment, utility and passenger vehicles, special vehicles and trailers for the disabled, forklifts, materials and substances necessary for building pavements, canopies and green area at 50 degree Celsius;

Residents declared that they would move only after the minimum humanitarian requirements are fulfilled;

Following a delay of two and half months and after 10 days of inspection which started on 4 July, belongings remained from groups four and five of Ashraf residents which were due to be transferred on 6 May, were transferred this noon (Sunday, 15 July) on 28 trucks from Ashraf to Liberty. However, Iraqi officials refused to transfer the three special vehicles of the disabled in this convoy contrary to former agreements which was made in presence of the UN monitors and confirmed by the US Government representative and the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General (SRSG) on 13 July in Ashraf. It was agreed that the Iraqi side provide total number of 29 trucks, 25 for transfer of personal belongings and 4 for the 300 air conditioners, but one truck carrying foodstuff remained behind. It was agreed on 28 May that 300 air conditioners are transferred and canopies are built to confront the intolerable hot weather. Now, one and half month later, the air conditioners have been transferred but building canopies has been prevented. Other items such as two water tanks and one sewage tank which were transferred today are the common items which had also been transferred in previous convoys.

Ashraf residents and their representatives had presented the necessary requirements for resuming further convoys and relocation of all Ashraf residents to Liberty in six items since two months ago, which has not been fulfilled yet.. In addition to the SRSG, the US Secretary of State’s special advisor also ensured the residents’ representative on 24 April that the vehicles and trailers of the disabled together with the agreed utility vehicles would be transferred from Ashraf to Liberty in the fifth convoy. However, Iraqi officials breached their promises on this. After the 6 utility vehicles of the fifth group, which was comprised of mainly female residents, were returned half way, the US Secretary of State’s special advisor wrote, “We too heard the unfortunate news of the return of the utility vehicles. We will follow up with the Iraqi authorities to determine why they took this strange and seemingly unhelpful step.”

Two and half months delay in fulfilling the commitments of the fifth convoy has stalled the relocation of further groups.

On 1 July, a group of US and European dignitaries met and talked to Martin Kobler, the SRSG, and the representatives of Ashraf and Liberty residents in presence of the President-elect of the Iranian Resistance, Mrs Maryam Rajavi in Paris in order to break the deadlock.

On 2 July, the US dignitaries mediated by articulating in 10 points the list of equipments which need to be transferred to Liberty before the next convoy moves from Ashraf and informed the SRSG and the residents’ representatives of these 10 points. They wrote, “The following equipment shall be placed/located in Camp Liberty prior to the next convoy of residents are transferred from Camp Ashraf.”

At the same time, on 2 July, vice-President of the European Parliament and President of the International Committee In Search of Justice declared the 10-point requirements on behalf of the 4000 parliamentarians across Atlantic and pointed out, “After comprehensive talks with the representatives of the residents, U.S. and UN representatives, parliamentary groups and prominent international personalities, the following 10-points are the minimum humanitarian requirements that must be fully realized prior to further relocation of the residents.”

The minimum requirements that have not been fulfilled are as follow:

  1. Connecting Liberty to the city water network which as repeatedly promised by Iraqi officials and confirmed by Ambassador Dan Fried and Ambassador Kobler was due to be done before Ramadan (The holy month for Muslims). The alternative was to transfer from Ashraf the equipment necessary for pumping water from a river 150 meters from Liberty. This has not been fulfilled either;
  2. Instead of transferring all the existing generators in Ashraf which are 328 sets, particularly the six generators of 1.5 Mega Watts which are essential for setting up the electricity in Liberty, whose purchasing documents are owned by the residents and have been repeatedly presented, in today’s convoy only 10 generators of less than 1 Mega Watt (one 100 K Watts, seven 150 K Watts, one 300 K Watts and one 500 K Watts) were transferred;
  3. Transfer of six utility vehicles (water, sewage and fuel) to Camp Liberty which belonged to the fifth convoy and were returned to Ashraf half way on 4 May;
  4. Transfer of three special vehicles and six trailers for the disabled;
  5. Transfer of five forklifts for carrying heavy loads that are now being carried with hands and on shoulders of the residents;
  6. Transfer of fifty passenger vehicles or alternatively suitable number of busses for 2000 people. (Previously thirty vehicles have been transferred for 1200 people);
  7. Permission for constructions in Liberty including building pavements, porches, canopies, ramps, special facilities for the disabled and green area;
  8. Allowing merchants or bidders having access to Ashraf to negotiate and buy the movable properties as soon as possible and start making partial payments to the residents before the resumption of the relocation of the next convoy.

Start of negotiations between the residents and their financial representatives and the Iraqi Government to sell the immovable assets and properties, or negotiations with third parties (Iraqi Government should provide permission) to sign the necessary agreements. Partial payments should be made before the relocation. At least 200 residents would remain at Ashraf to maintain and upkeep the properties until they are sold in their entirety.

The International Committee In Search of Justice in its July 8 statement said: “Although the above items do not include many pressing and necessary needs of the residents, they have agreed to completely move to Liberty after the realization of these points, and we think this is the maximum flexibility that they could show. It is now the time for the U.S., the UN and the Government of Iraq to render their duties. We call on the international community, parliaments, defenders of human rights, civil rights activists and jurists to support these minimum demands. The international community is facing a major test.”

“We would like to emphasize that several important and basic issues such as designation of Camp Liberty as a refugee camp, inspection of camp Ashraf by U.S. forces, and commitment by the UN Secretary General’s Special Representative to refrain from giving any roles whatsoever to the Iranian regime to intervene in the destiny of Ashraf residents are important issues that cannot be ignored and are necessary for the security and safety of the residents of Ashraf and Liberty and we will do all that we can to materialize them with the UN, the European Union, the U.S. Government, the parliaments and the public opinion.”

  • The Government of Iraq is refusing to return two containers of personal belongings of convoys 4 and 5 worth $120,000 which were confiscated three months ago. The items in these containers are all lawful and non-military and many of them can be damaged in the hot weather of more than 50 degree Celsius.
  • Regarding the transfer of three special vehicles and six specially designed trailers for the disabled, which were emphasized in the July 8 “Operational Arrangements” of the SRSG, the Iraqi authorities say that these have to be inspected outside Ashraf in the absence of representatives of the residents and UNAMI monitors for seven days. Iraqis say that they can go to Liberty with next convoys. This makes it effectively impossible to transfer the trailers and vehicles for the paraplegics. It is quite obvious that in the absence of representatives of the residents and UN during the 7-day inspection any conspiracy is conceivable. This is while the residents have no objections with inspection of these items inside Ashraf in the presence of UNAMI monitors for as many days as they require. During the recent 10-day inspections, everything was examined by Iraqis and the police trained dog unit. Breach of commitments and refusal to allow the transfer of water pump facilities, utility and passenger vehicles, special vehicles and trailers for disabled, forklifts, and the material and equipments required to build footpaths, canopies and green areas in temperatures reaching 55 degrees Celsius are indeed shocking.

    Despite all these, the SRSG informed the residents of Ashraf through UNAMI on Sunday that Iraqis are going to Ashraf on Monday, July 16, for the transfer of the sixth convoy to Liberty. The residents told UNAMI representatives that as they have repeatedly announced, the sixth convoy will only move when the minimum humanitarian requirements are fulfilled, which have been stated on a number of occasions, including in the joint letter of the residents on May 27 to UN Secretary General, SRSG and the American officials.

    The Iranian Resistance once again urges the UN, US and the European Union to invite the Iraqi government to respect the “humanitarian and human rights standards” in accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding that it signed with the United Nations.

    Without the minimum requirements fulfilled, for Ashraf residents to move to Camp Liberty prison would mean to welcome a tragedy that would undoubtedly be in greater scale than the ones the Iranian regime and its proxies committed since 2009 in Ashraf against its defenseless and unarmed residents. All the residents of Ashraf are protected persons under the Fourth Geneva Convention and according to UNHCR statements; they are asylum seekers and people of concern under international protection.

    Prior to this, On June 23, thousands of parliamentarians from the Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe and national parliaments of 46 countries from five continents warned in their statement against turning Camp Liberty into a prison and declared, “residents’ transfer to Liberty will continue upon the fulfillment of their minimum demands articulated in six items. We have explicitly urged the US Government, the European Union and the United Nations to take initiative in order to fulfill these minimum demands and to refrain from resolving the problems at the expense of the residents as has been the case in the past. Any solution based on such an approach would be untenable and would only encourage the Iranian regime and the Iraqi Government to resort to violence and step up the violation of the residents’ rights.”

  • Shahriar Kia is a member of the Iranian opposition (PMOI /MEK). He is a human rights activist and political analyst on Iran and the Middle East.